Both sides shared the spoils at the BayArena in Leverkusen, with the Azzurri extending their impressive record to ten games without defeat against Ukraine (W7, D3).
Ukraine needed victory to secure a spot in the Euro 2024, while Italy knew a point would be enough to snatch a slot, setting the stage for what turned out to be an end-to-end encounter.
Luciano Spalletti’s side kicked off the game on the front foot and came close to breaking the deadlock inside the opening ten minutes, with Federico Chiesa handed a golden opportunity.
The Juventus winger emerged unmarked in Ukraine’s 18-yard area but miscued his effort over the crossbar after being picked out by Nicolo Zaniolo’s header across goal.
After a lightning start at the BayArena, Ukraine began to establish themselves in the game, stamping their authority and soon tested Gianluigi Donnarumma’s goal.
The Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper was called into action on the quarter-hour mark, going down to steer Heorhiy Sudakov’s drilled effort away from goal.
The high-stakes fixture served up end-to-end action as each side edged closer to breaking the deadlock with every attacking endeavour.
However, both goalkeepers emerged as the stars of the show, with Anatoliy Trubin delivering the save of the game after denying Davide Frattesi from close range.
The chances continued to fall for Italy, but they were thwarted by a combination of poor finishing and fine goalkeeping from Trubin, who ensured his side went into the interval level on the score sheet.
In an identical manner as the first half, the second 45 minutes served up a pulsating start with action at both ends but Ukraine appeared the more threatening side.
Donnarumma almost allowed Mykhailo Mudryk to pounce on a loose ball and score, but the Italian made a superb recovery to deny the Chelsea man.
Knowing only a win would see them progress automatically, Serhiy Rebrov’s men continued to push further up the field and had the Italians pinned back in their own half.
Chances continued to fall to both sides, but the quality of finishing on show denied any fireworks, with both keepers seeing out the clash with clean sheets.
Ukraine will feel they should have been handed a penalty when Mudryk appeared to have been fouled in the box, but the referee wasn’t having it, and interestingly, neither was the VAR.
Ukraine will feel hard done by, but they will get another chance to secure a place in Germany next summer through the play-offs.
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